Is it Midsummer's Day today? I think so and as tradition would have it I'm considering going back into thermals. Forget that stupid saying about not casting a clout 'til May be out and then the debate about whether that means the month or the blossom.
Just don't bother to cast a clout at all, it's folly.
One of the things about regular church attendance used to be the way it grounded you in the year, all those festivals like Rogationtide and Whitsun, Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi.
Conversely lapsed church attendance means you lose track of them all and their significance. It was my good fortune in that case (being lapsed) to stumble across The English Year by Steve Roud. A month-by-month guide to the nation's customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night.
Now I don't remember Mischief Night in the Anglican church, other than my mispent teenage years in the church youth club, but it is certainly of note how much of our tradition here in England did revolve around the church as did life.
I'd forgotten that Rogationtide for example is the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday immediately preceeding Ascension Day which is the fortieth day after Easter. It's all clearly proscribed and it's when we should be Beating the Bounds of the Parish boundary. The origins were completely unknown to me but tradition had it that boys were turned upsidedown, bumped on stones, whipped, beaten, or otherwise mistreated. Clearly all a case for social services involvement, equal opportunities litigation and counselling nowadays.
Mixed in with festivals are all the customs and traditions that have their origins obscured in the mists of time and Steve Roud has done some major detective work to unearth it all making this book one of those little treasure troves of information.
June being high summer (supposedly) there's quite a lot going on.
Trinity Sunday, eight weeks after Easter has been and gone in May this year but there should be plenty more to look forward to.
Abingdon should have elected the Mayor of Ock Street on the 20th and he will be the squire of the local Morris team and they'll be carrying a pair of ox horns mounted on a pole. Mock mayor ceremonies used to be quite common and in Exeter the mayor was easily recognisable by the chamber pot on his head, removed when ladies were present.
In Kidderminster anyone lucky enough to be born in Church Street can apply for the Brecknell Bequest on the 21st and take home a farthing loaf and twopenny cake each year for life, apparently people in America apply.
Midsummer on the 24th and things get very busy, and Amity Bonfires should be abounding which used to be a means of making peace with your neighbours (try it everyone). Churches should be bedecked with birch,everyone must make a Dumb Cake and there must be a lot of processing as in marching, Girls must also be tossing hemp seed over their shoulders to see the form of their future husband. Midsummer Cushions must be woven from flowers and if you're anywhere near Appleton in Cheshire they should be Bawming the Thorn and singing
Up with the fresh garlands this midsummer morn
Up with the red ribbons on Appleton thorn
Come lasses and lad to the Thorn Tree today
To bawm it and shout as ye bawm it 'Hurray'.
In Warcop they'll be Rush-Bearing and so it goes on.
July's looking busy too, Stagshawbank Fair, Wahlton Baal Fair, Duck Racing, more Rush-Bearing,Straw racing, the Pretty Maid's Charity handout in Holsworthy and more.
It just all makes me want to go and put on a pair of clogs and strip a willow or two when I've gathered a peascod, a lovely lovely book